Energy Conservation as a Budget Multiplier

By John, Alan | The FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, October 2010 | Go to article overview

Energy Conservation as a Budget Multiplier


John, Alan, The FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin


As the nation's economy struggles and local tax revenues drop, the mayor and council members call you, the chief of police, in for a meeting. They advise that they cannot continue to fund the police department at the current budget levels; they want to lay off officers. What are you going to do? How are you going to respond?

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

By proactively taking certain steps now, law enforcement agencies can begin to decrease operating costs. The opening scenario may not occur. But, if it does, leaders can demonstrate how they have reduced their bottom line through energy conservation at fundamental budget levels, convincing government officials that they are not only aware of the depth of the financial crisis but are actively engaging in a solution.

In today's society, although many people believe it is always noble and politically correct to go "green" and save the environment, employees may not buy into the program without motivation. They must understand the need to conserve, and organizations must regularly inform them of the progress and results of their efforts. Each area of the country is unique in its needs and uses of energy for different reasons. Police officers in the Arizona heat may want to leave their patrol cars running when unoccupied to keep them cool. In Jackson Hole, Wyoming, officers may want their cruisers running because of the frigid temperatures. Most agencies have chargers for every electronic gadget plugged in all over the department. Officers plug in radio battery and cell phone chargers, automated external defibrillators, and jump packs for cars even when they are not using or charging them. Further, many organizations regularly leave all of the lights on in their buildings.

ONE AGENCY'S EXPERIENCE

Jackson, Wyoming, is one of the most beautiful places in the world. Its citizens care about the future of the planet and ecosystem and continue to increase their environmental awareness. The Jackson Police Department operated in the business mode outside the community norms. Officers often left cars running for hours at a time while they completed reports in the station. They joked to each other how they turned their vehicles on in November and turned them off in May. Many community members complained to the police chief and town council that the department was not being energy efficient. Drawing upon the badge of public safety, for several years, the chief declared such practices necessary for the good of the community. Finally, the town administrator called an all-employee meeting with attendance mandatory. He announced that the budget was getting tighter, and the organization needed to become more aware of budget flow in all areas. …

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